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Why care, why share? Using social media for your business

The former global head of social media for Red Bull reveals her gospel for getting consumers to interact with your brand on their own terms.

SOCIAL MEDIA ISN’T rocket science, but it’s also not something many people in the marketing profession are not equipped to handle either. You would think by 2014, brands and businesses would know how to use social media correctly, but still, even global brands, are struggling.

On one hand you have the brands that push their product message hard and repeatedly on their social channels, and on the other hand you have the brands that have changed their brand personality and message to be “social” focusing on generating memes rather than promoting their brand.

Both aren’t exactly the right approach, and both aren’t authentic to the social space or a brand message. But the key problem that underlines these two very common approaches is that both rely on brand-led messages being passed down to consumers as a marketing strategy.

Get fans to lead the conversation

At Red Bull, while I was the global head of social media, the approach that I drove around social was from the community and fan point of view. The idea was always to find a way to have the fans lead the conversation about the brand, and the brand to enable it, rather than the top down approach of the brand publishing a message to reach its fans.

This was approached by holding everything we did through the lens of “Why would they care, why would they share?” This meant from our social publishing content to our events like Red Bull Stratos, or even thinking about the can itself, all aspects of every consumer touchpoint were held through this lens.

Why would they care, Why would they share?

It’s important for two reasons:

1. Brand-led social publishing is having less and less of a day-to-day impact and

2. Social media isn’t just Facebook, it’s now the real world.

When thinking about the social publishing side of this aspect, the core fact that every brand or marketer needs to remember is that social networks were built for people – to connect with old friends, share great content, connect over similar interests, or see cool stuff.

Brands just came on and saw an opportunity to advertise their products under the guise of building a community. And as such, people are a bit more immune to brand-led content.

Social media isn’t about brands, it’s about people

This doesn’t mean changing what you are doing to be posting pictures of cats or corgis. It means understanding how real people in your community talk, what they are sharing and how they are speaking about your brand to their own network off of your brand channels.

By understanding this, you can reframe what your approach to your social content so it is authentic to your brand, but also something that consumers aren’t afraid of attaching their names to and sharing with their own networks.


Felix Baumgartner’s jump from space above New Mexico in October 2012 had eight million live viewers on Youtube, in a social media campaign orchestrated by Tessa. Image: Red Bull Stratos

But the more importantly, the part of social that most marketers miss, is that it’s also thinking about social not just from a social publishing approach, but from every touchpoint the consumer has with the brand. It means asking the questions of how can you create shareable moments around in store displays, the product itself to any events.

  • It means if you have a restaurant, do you have wifi enabled to help encourage people to share photos of their food or their experiences in the moment with their friends?
  • If you run a concert venue, do you have an experience to encourage people to share while they are queuing up for the toilets checking their phones?
  • If you sell a product is your packaging including a hashtag and perhaps a fun little Easter egg that will increase sharing by people unpacking your product?

Social isn’t about following a brand on social platforms for people; it’s about the content they create to share to themselves. This is the most important part that brand need to understand and not be afraid of.

Be authentic

This is also extremely important when you think that monetisation is leading all social platform strategies, penalising brands, and forcing them to spend money to reach a consumer base that has already expressed interest in them. The power of thinking of social away from social platforms and being consumer-led rather than brand-led is even a more authentic way to reach an even larger audience of people, and have your brand message shared.


This takes time, and is easy to overlook when you have to hit sales targets. It’s super easy to think publishing a link and marketing message is the easiest way to help make the target. But you can actually increase your sales if you understand and interact in the community, how to have them lead the conversation, and to get your message out.

By authentically creating brand affinity by relinquishing some control in a strategic manner, you can help increase your reach, build brand engagement and create a more interested audience that can drive your marketing goals further.

Tessa Barrera is Head of Social Media for Lexis and was former Global Head of Social Media at Red Bull, where she led the social media activity around Felix Baumgartner’s supersonic skydive (which got eight million people watching live on Youtube.)

She is one of the speakers at the DMX Dublin digital marketing conference on 12 March in Dublin’s Aviva.

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